With the end of most non-professional’s competition season approaching (after Strongman Corporation National) most athletes will enter a time known as the off-season. It’s longer than the traditional break between events, giving you options that are often overlooked. Making the most of your time before the next season begins is often overlooked and under appreciated. If you jump right back into your standard training and nutritional routine you could be leaving gains on the table. Here is how to best use your time in ways you may not have considered.
Take some time off
I’ve seen many athletes get home on Sunday from Nationals and get right back in the gym on Monday without any break. The only way this makes any sense is if one of the following two things happened:
- You were so well prepared for the event and easily ran through the events and won your class without breaking a sweat.
- You left reps and seconds on the competition floor and did not push your body into the absolute red zone and aren’t fatigued.
On the other hand, if you did your very best you should have come home, sore, tired from traveling, and needing a break mentally and physically. If this is the case, take an entire week off from training and allow your body to recover. The demands of moving tons and tons of weight weekly will cause a build up of cortisol in the body and a break here and there is going to do more for your performance than giving it a constant beating. Older and bigger athletes need this even more than their younger and lighter counterparts because the ability to recover declines with age and weight. You won’t fall apart during this week and you can use that time to enjoy friends and family.
Drop some bodyweight
While most athletes want to always be as big and strong and strong as possible, sometimes you need to rest and reset your digestive system as well. Often, athletes must eat near their caloric ceiling year round to maintain their weight. Since you are going to take a rest week you should also be OK with cutting back on your calories and losing a few pounds. You can easily put it back on when the time calls for it but by lowering your weight periodically your body should feel healthier and you may even enjoy a drop in blood pressure or better results in your blood work. Don’t lose sight of your health and give your body a chance to be closer to it’s natural weight even if it is just for a month or two a year.
Reevaluate what you are doing
If you have been doing the same thing for years you must ask yourself if you are still making positive improvements. If you hire a programmer, is there good communication back and forth? Does your program seem “copy and pasted”? Did you hit the goals you set for yourself? If you see holes in your game, now is the time to fix them; not halfway into the next season. Prioritize movements you need work on and look to become a technical master of the ones you are good at.
Become a fitter athlete overall
Fantastic anaerobic conditioning is essential to being a successful athlete in today’s strongman game. Unfortunately this is also the part most competitors hate. Use the offseason to become a front carry, high rep, car-pulling machine! If you start using some gym time to up your capacity to work and maintain it during the year, it is much less painful than trying to up your one rep press max AND get your bag carry to maximum distance. I love using the sled to get great results but lighter front carries for longer distances can also help you be in overall better shape. You may even enjoy trying to hit the heavy bag to release some stress.
Every world class athlete takes a little bit of down time during their off-season and looks to make big improvements for the next year. Do not get left out! Be smart about how the body works and allow yourself to get better by using this time wisely.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.